No matter how many times I try to convince people that I actually DO write at home, people unintentionally make a lot of assumptions about my time. I, as far as they are concerned, live within a time vortex that is void of physical limitations, responsibilities, gravity, or time constraints. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for me to be asked to:
1.) Watch someone’s child on a moment’s notice,
2.) Drop off a package at FedEx,
3.) Look up and compare airline ticket prices,
4.) Make a life-changing decision for someone else.
Considering that I oftentimes do need a break from teaching a human how to be human or looking at the blank pages of my Scrivener screen (that’s a writing program), I normally try really hard to not take these arbitrary requests personally. Besides, I figure that no one in my mental rolodex mocks my declarations for daily productivity as much as my Daddy, who as a retiree also tends to treat me as a retiree. (Regardless of how many times I try to convince him that I really AM doing something other than watching The Family Feud while at home.)
I love my Dad with all my heart so that’s why I talk to him several times a day about new car models, Good Morning America and Sports Channel highlights, or whether he should eat a Subway and Potbelly sandwich for lunch.
With each detail that he likes to ponder about his meals, I remind myself that helping him decide these “important” issues is the least I could do since he gave me life and 30+ years of support.
Should I get an extra jar of hot peppers for the house? Hot? Mild? Medium?
What type of chips do you think I should get?
What’s the name of that cookie your momma likes to get?
(With each question I weep silently…)
It’s usually only once the last detail of his meal is decided / or topic of choice has been fully discussed does he acknowledge that my youngest has likely been yelling, “Want iPad!” or “Uh oh, I boo-boo’d” in the background.
“Well, I see you are busy,” he says coyly. “You should have told me you were busy.”
“I should have?” I always ask sarcastically.
“Yes pookie,” he usually replies.
I roll my eyes and laugh because we both know that I never will.
It’s 7:34, I just opened my laptop, and all I can think is
“How in the [BLEEPPPPPPPPPPPP] am I going to finish another book?”
[As I hear my oldest child yell at my husband, “I AM NOT AN ALIEN!” from the other room.]
I can’t settle on a point of view, I keep falling asleep during my writing hours, and…
[As the recurring question, “Mommy, am I an alien?” continues to ring through the air.]
[As my youngest kid runs down the hallway, wet and naked.]
…because I’m nervous about introducing too many new characters into the next book because nothing is worse than not being able to keep up with all the characters in a book.
It will get done, it will.
I just need someone to bring me the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Chalice of the Last Supper, and the single thug tear that Jesus wept when Lazarus died to make this happen.
It feels impossible, it really does, but just saying that makes me want to listen to Jay Z’s verse on the Diamonds from Sierra Leone Remix.
As a matter of fact…
[Hearing Shirley Bassey’s voice in the background]
[Hearing Jay Z’s voice]
“The pressure’s on, but guess who ain’t gon’ crack? [laughs] Pardon me I had to laugh at that How could you falter when you’re the rock of Gibraltar I had to get of the boat so I could walk on water This ain’t no tall order, this is nothin to me Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week I do this in my sleep…”
[Hands waiving in the air.]
Yes!!! Jigga man, yes!
[Opened my eyes to see my youngest trying to put a Veggie Straw down a floor vent.]
Yep, finishing this book will be nothing short of a miracle…when it happens.
If you don’t belong to the “All Boys + One Girl Club” then just close your eyes, imagine every insane thing that you think a little boy might do in his lifetime, then roll it into 24 hours and multiple it by two.
Add a chocolate milk addiction, a perpetual curiosity with their anatomy, and an eternal attachment to your breasts, then you have finally entered my household.
I love my kids…I love them. I love them. I love them.
[As my youngest walks into the room and falls out for really no apparent reason…]
[Chanting to myself….I love my kids…I love my kids…I love my kids…]
Being a parent can be scary. While you try to nurture your kids’ natural inclination to look at the world with wonder, you also have to teach them to look at the world with a certain degree of caution. No sooner than you ween your kid off the teet, you have to consider how soon you should wait before you teach them about Stranger Danger, anaphylaxis, and the small parameter of people who are allowed to touch their bodies.
And because boys are…well, boys…as soon as my kids begin to pull on their penises with curiosity, I try to make a big deal out of their discovery.
“Hey, that’s your penis! Say, ‘Hi Penis!'”
As most Child Psychologists recommend, there’s no “Mr. Winky” in my house. Taking ownership of the one thing that will likely be their best friend and best enemy is something that we try to start as early as possible. When they interrupt a phone call with a non-emergency, I calmly ask, “Has your arm or penis fallen off?” After taking stock, my boys know that if everything is still attached, that their request can probably wait.
And it’s worked out fine so far, that is, until my oldest boy came home inquiring about “Paginas.”
Suddenly his frequent bursts into the bathroom weren’t just to ask for pickles, but to ask, “Are you peeing from you PAGINA?”
These questions would follow me throughout the day, and have become increasingly more difficult to answer.
“Why do women have PAGINAS?”
“Did God take away your penis?”
“Does your PAGINA belong to the urinary or digestive system?
Suddenly, my cool, calm and anatomically-liberated thinking began to unravel. Do I go the religious route, the medically approved route, is this the time to mention Caitlyn Jenner?
Overwhelmed at his sudden curiosity about the anatomy of the opposite sex, I defaulted to a response that is tried and true, one that has been handed down from generation-to-genearation.
I said, “(Boy #1) The word is vagina. Va-gina. Girls have va-ginas. They are girl’s super-secret personal area and it does strange and scary things. Just like no one should touch your penis, I hear that you might die if you touch a girl’s va-gina. And this is a good thing, because girls have horrible cooties. Even the cute ones.”
Somehow, he was appeased by the answer and I was able to walk away from the conversation without further trauma to either of us.
And since cooties = zombies….
Can we give it up one time for how PHENOMENAL “The Walking Dead” was last night?
Oh Maggie…Oh Carol…Oh Glenn…my bet is that one of you all are not going to make it through the next episode. I’ve come to the conclusion that (on 99% of the shows on television, Wheel of Fortune included), if someone makes you the beacon of hope then you are going to die…or hit bankruptcy. As soon as they showed us the ultrasound of new life in the last week’s episode, and everyone was on the bus smiling as they drove back to the Alexandria Safezone with Jesus to vote on whether they were going to kill all the Saviors….I shook my head. I knew that they were goners.
Although I hope that I’m wrong! But with Negan lurking in the background to make his on-screen debut, I’ve already put all three characters on my prayer list this week.
Ahh, Disney World. The place of children’s dreams and parent’s nightmares. To be completely honest, when we first decided to take Boy #1 to Disney World, I (initially) was happier than anyone else is my household. I secretly read through Disney brochures that my parents had given me, imagining the happiness and excitement I would feel, my son would feel once he entered into the most Magical Place on Earth.
I remembered the magic of It’s a Small World and the swirl of the Teacups.
I anticipated the exhilaration of Space Mountain and getting drenched while riding Splash Mountain.
I looked forward to buying my son Mickey Mouse ears and seeing him eat an enormous bbq turkey leg as caramel popcorn and skittles rained down from the sky.
“I’m going to the Magic Kingdom and I am going to have fun!” Boy #1 said over and over again for days. For the most part, when I wasn’t thinking about the possibility of the entire park being contaminated with an infectious strain of meningitis, I agreed.
“We ARE going to have a great time!” I told him the morning of our adventure as I packed disinfectant wipes, antibacterial lotion, sunblock, extra hats, water bottles, snacks, and other precautionary items into my bag. After saying a quick prayer that I wouldn’t lose him in the park, we started on a way. The following is an account of our 12 hour experience.
Stop 1: The monorails to Epcot and Magic Kingdom
By the time we get off the shuttle bus to the monorails, Boy #1 looks sleepy. I think, “OH H-LL NO!” but I don’t say it. Instead, I make him and his friend chant “MAGIC KINGDOM! MAGIC KINGDOM! MAGIC KINGDOM!” until he wakes up.
Stop 2: Security
At some point over the last fifteen years, Magic Kingdom replaced it’s paper tickets with plastic debit-like cards. Upon swiping your card to enter the park, you also apply your finger to a biometric scanner. Now, you are the card and the card is you. You are one. I find this to be impressive and it makes me feel better about spending over $100/per person to visit. My bag is searched for the second time by a guy who doesn’t look inside of it cause he is looking at my boobs. I ward off thoughts of potential terrorists and go inside.
Stop 3: Main Street
We enter the park and we see the infamous bushes shaped in Mickey Mouses head and take a picture with the friends we were traveling with. It’s hot as balls outside. Boy #1 and his friend say they are thirsty. So very thirsty. We go inside Starbucks. The air-conditioning feels like the teardrops of angels upon my skin. I wonder why the people working here are dressed in Amish costumes and then I wonder if they are really Amish and then I wonder why only Amish people would be working at this particular Starbucks. Is it an Amish work-exchange program? This boggles my mind until I begin to drink my Strawberry Acai Refresher which happens to taste better and more magical than all of the Strawberry Acai Refreshers that I have ever tasted.
Stop 4: Cinderella’s Castle
We walk through mainstreet and Boy #1 sees the castle. He is entranced and wants to go inside. Remembering that there is nothing in there, I don’t want to kill the boy’s dreams just yet. Plus, if he sees Princess Elsa or Anna, I will be back to looking at Frozen three times a week. I tell him we will go there at end of the day and he is temporarily satisfied with that answer.
Stop 5: The Park: Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Frontierland
I love the Buzz Lightyear ride because the entire family is able to shoot at space aliens. I garner 100,000 points.
My husband and I make the unwise decision of taking the boy on Space Mountain. It is still petrifying. The boy almost goes into cardiac arrest. He survives.
I’m excited about the bumper carts only to realize that they go 5 miles per hour. I fall asleep behind my wheel but my son loves it. He says he wants to “do it again and again forever”.
We have to physically force the boy onto Astro Orbitor and the Barnstormer. He laughs through the Haunted Mansion, which is really just an air conditioning stop with crypts and skeletons. I laugh through the Jungle Cruise because the tour guide seems like he hates his job.
We arrive at It’s A Small World. I think, This is it. This will be the most significant memory of his entire childhood experience! We are all filled with wonder as the ride drifts through the water into the first scene. I hear the same magical music that I remember in my childhood but I wonder why the children don’t look as magical. Their jerky swaying of their hips reminds me of the Big Gorilla in Chucky Cheese. I begin to suspect that the dolls are probably older than my grandmother. I hope the boy doesn’t notice and from the look in his eyes, he is completely oblivious that the brown skin dolls have ruby red hair.
I hit 20,000 steps on my Fitbit and I feel like my legs are about to explode. We go on the PeopleMover to get a walking break. We travel through the Land of Tomorrow and I’m surprised at how much of it looks like today. I’m sure this is the same Land of Tomorrow I saw in 1986. I wonder where are the holograms and floating houses. I look at the boy to see if he looks amazed and he is half sleep.
Stop 6: Waiting for the Parade
We loose half of our party due to severe hunger and thirst. Those of us who are left – my husband, the boy, and I – continue on bravely with God on our side. We desperately want to go home but we can’t. Only three more hours until the big parade. We’ve come too far to turn back now. We stop and get our sixth mysterious red iced drink that looks like a slurpee but has twice the sugar. After drinking it, we all get more energy. We feel strong. The next 2.5 hours are a blur.
Stop 7: Waiting for the Parade, Part 2
Only thirty minutes to the parade. We find a spot right at the entrance of the park so we can hightail it out of there as soon as the last float pasts us. We decide to look at the fireworks from the monorail. Time drags on. Parents begin to argue along the parade route for a spot close to the street. I set my countdown watch. The boy looks so tired. So very tired.
Stop 8: THE PARADE
I remember this part from my childhood. I remember the mammoth sized Mickey. The Goofy that was the size of the Willis Sears Tower. I remember it all. I’m so grateful that my husband and I am about to share this moment with Boy #1.
The gates to the barn house open and goosebumps develop on my arms. Strange little aliens with Christmas lights walk out of the barn. Lots of them. They are dancing. I’m confused. Huge snail-like vehicles with Christmas lights follow them. I’m even more confused.
Then I see the big float. It’s Goofy driving! We look up and Minney is waving to us! Mickey is bringing up the rear in the back of the float! He is looking RIGHT at us! The boy is exastic for the two minutes it takes them to pass us. Then suddenly the strange aliens in Christmas lights return. They continue to dance to what can only be described as the soundtrack to Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.
Over the next twenty minutes, we see Ariel, Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora and more creatures in Christmas lights. I wonder where the hell is Doc McStuffins, Miles from Tomorrowland and Sheriff Callie? Where is Handy Mandy? Where is Jake and the Neverland Pirates? Where are the building sized characters and holograms and laser lights?
The parade comes to an end. The boy stands up and says, “I’m ready to get out of here!” My husband and I agree.
We board the monorail and the boy falls asleep but not before saying, “I want to go back to the Magic Kingdom.”
My husband and I give each other an approving nod. We came. We saw. But Walt Disney still won.
1) Download the Disney FastPast App. After you exhaust your first three FPs, you can get them one at a time at special FP kiosks throughout the park.
2) Use the App to find rides with short wait times.
3) Don’t try to look cute. This is parental warfare and at any given time you may have to sprint after a runaway kid (not necessarily your own). The goal is to be as comfortable as possible.
4) Non-negotiable: Hats (for everyone), water, sunblock, antibacterial lotion, water mister (at least one), a lightweight bookbag, ponchos, and phone charger.
5) Take plenty of breaks (as needed). Rome wasn’t built in a day and Walt Disney didn’t intend for you to finish a park in one day. That’s why the 2-Day Pass and Park Hopper were invented. There is no shame in going home and coming back tomorrow.
Kay’s debut novel, Lotus, will be available August 17 on Amazon.com, iBooks, GooglePlay, and BarnesandNoble.com.